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Lung cancer stages

  • When diagnosed with lung cancer, you will be told at what stage the cancer is.

    Lung cancer stages outline how "bad" or "advanced" your disease is. They can help you and your care team evaluate what lung cancer treatments may help.

    Our doctors use the TNM staging system to define lung cancer stages.



    expand to learn more T is for "tumor."

    expand to learn more N is for "lymph nodes."

    expand to learn more M is for "metastatic spread."

  • Numbers or letters appearing after T, N and M give more details about lung cancer stages.

    • "0" is the earliest stage of lung cancer.
    • Numbers increase in severity until four.
    • "4" is final stage lung cancer.

    Final stage lung cancer

    In general, early stage cancers have a better prognosis than late stage cancers. That is why early lung cancer detection is important.

    In the final stages of lung cancer, the cancer can be any size. It may or may not be in nearby lymph nodes. The cancer has spread to other organs.

    In final stage lung cancer, hospice and palliative care become central to a lung cancer treatment plan.